Well after 8 months of waiting and a quick trip to Disneyland to get our fix, we got an email reminding us that our final payment was due in one month. Getting that email spurred us into realizing that the endless waiting was almost over (but not really because we still had 8 months left to go, but it did make it FEEL like we were getting closer) and we needed to make a few decisions.
When we originally booked our cruise, we half talked about if we should book a hotel stay and transportation through Disney or handle it ourselves. We figured we’d better look into options and decide on that soon. We are no stranger to public transportation, or taxi rides, so we figured if it saved us a lot of money and was easy enough we might want to do that. But as we age (really lets just admit it, we get lazy as we get older, or maybe it’s smarter…. Who knows) we’ve started to want hassle free over cheapest options. Did we REALLY want to drag our suite cases all over Vancouver, and make sure we had local currency, and have routes and back up plans laid out and endless pieces of paper to carry around with maps or reservations for car services? Ugg. But the possibility of saving money required us to at least do our homework.
Booking a Hotel.
We started with where to stay. We had read a great series on Touringplans.com where two of their bloggers went on a DCL Alaska Cruise. They each used the Disney hotel and transportation option, each staying in a different one of the two Vancouver hotels Disney offers. This helped us a lot on deciding what to do. First off we are large hotel chain only stayers. We don’t like quant bed and breakfasts, or staying with a friend of a friend of a friends cousin. We don’t have to have the Hard Rock Hotel, we’re ok with Holiday Inn. So we looked into the options in Vancouver.
One of the first things we found out from other trip reports is there are some great areas of Vancouver, and a lot of not so great areas (like any big city). But the areas seemed to be hard to figure out without knowing the city well, and also seemed to bump up against each other a lot. So what looked like a great hotel, could be blocks away from an area we didn’t want to visit. When looking at areas of the city, we figured out you really do get what you pay for. Anywhere we would be comfortable staying, was going to cost some bucks. Well one of the reasons we hadn’t imminently signed up for a hotel through Disney was the cost. It was around $380.00 for one night! (Exchange rates and such make it impossible to know the exact amount of a hotel until you pay for it (unless you go through Disney because you pay in advance and the exchange rate isn’t figured into that)). Well after searching around, we found out the price while steep, it wasn’t unheard of. Disney offers two hotel options. Both with the Fairmont hotel company. One is located at the airport. It looked really nice, people said it was sound proof, and the views of landing planes were fun. The second option costs a bit more, and is the Fairmont Waterfront Hotel. It’s located right across the street from the cruise terminal (Canada Place) and is in a trendy part of town with “touristy” stuff to do near by.
We decided on the advise of Disney, every blogger out there, and common sense, to fly into Vancouver the day before our cruise. That way there was no stress. Or at least less stress because who doesn’t freak out when they have to make the boat or get left behind. We knew at that time of year weather probably wouldn’t be a problem for us, but we’ve flown enough to know a late flight, a long baggage check in, or simply a broken plane, can sigificanly delay travel. So we wanted a 24 hours buffer.
Ok so that decision made, we knew if we were bothering to fly in a day early, we wanted to do a few fun things that evening in Vancouver. If we’re in Canada we weren’t just gonna watch tv in the hotel room. So we figured although the Airport Fairmont hotel was cheaper, and would even save us money on transportation costs (more on that later), we’d rather have a hotel room in the middle of the city with things to do nearby. And we liked the idea of being across the street from the Cruise terminal so we could hopefully board the ship first thing. We could have stayed at the Airport Fairmont and used public transportation to get to the tourist areas (we read it’s really easy and good) but that honestly just sounded like one more hassle and stress to us.
At this point in all our planning we had come to the idea that we really just wanted a vacation with as little stress and hassle as possible. We didn’t want to deal with complicated plans, reservations, travel itineraries etc. Even if it cost us a bit , and by a bit I do mean a bit, we weren’t going crazy here on splurging, we were willing to spend it to get on that ship feeling rested and ready to have fun, not stressed out from two days of travel and needing a day just to recoup from the stresses.
So with that in mind we decided we’d book the Fairmont Waterfront hotel through Disney.
Taxi,Bus or Disney?
Then it was on to transportation. As we were looking for hotel options we were also looking at transportation. We did learn that the public transit train in Vancouver was great, inexpensive and easy to use. We are comfortable with taxis and figured that was an option. We didn’t even want to bother with renting a car so we didn’t even look into it. The last option was a car service, town car, limo, that sort of thing. Following our theme of less stress, we decided we didn’t want to haul several suitcases through the airport, onto a train(or a bus or who knows what else) then haul it to our hotel. We decided using a taxi wasn’t that cheap, and we just didn’t want to have to find someone after traveling all day. So we decided to again shell out the bucks to Disney. By booking our transportation through them, we got transportation from the airport to our hotel, from our hotel to the cruise ship, and at the end of the trip from our cruise ship to the airport. Since we were staying across the street from the cruise ship terminal, we could have forgone the transportation from the hotel to the ship(I’m honestly not 100% sure if that was included in the hotel cost or seperate at this point but I believe seperate and we did pay for it) and hauled our own bags over there. In the stress free vacation plan we decided we’d rather let them deal with that and stroll leasurly onto the ship. We’ll see our bags when they are delivered to our room that evening.
So that was it. We decided on an arrival date, we decided on a hotel, we decided on our transportation, well it was time to call Disney. Sort of.
During this process we decided to call Disney Cruise Line to see when we were even allowed to book our hotel and transportation. Back so many months ago when we first booked our cruise, we mentioned that we were interested in Disney transportation, they told us it was too far in advance to book that or a hotel room, and to call back closer to the cruise. So we did, and asked when we would be allowed to book a hotel and transportation? They said oh you need to book those now because we run our of hotel rooms. I was like well we need to figure out our airline flights first and they stressed us out by informing us we needed to do it quickly because we might not get a room otherwise. Thanks Disney. This was supposed to be stress free. Better go figure out flights.
Follow along from the beginning: Disney Cruise Alaska Part 1.